What Is National Immunization Awareness Month?

August has been titled the National Immunization Awareness Month across North America. There are events held throughout the month, both physical and on social media, spreading awareness of the importance it is to get vaccinated and the benefits of doing so. Many friendly competitions take place at health facilities during this time to further the importance of vaccination, raise awareness of immunization practices, and how best practices can prevent serious and sometimes deadly diseases.

Usually when we think of vaccines, we think of infants wailing in the hospital room, being held in place by nurses while being served several doses of colourful solutions. Or, we think of flu shots, and the people standing in line looking to prevent the latest trending viruses. However, as we age, our body gradually loses some of the effects of vaccines we’ve taken in the past, and our immunization system also degrades.

Seniors Are Saying Their Rights Are Being Denied

One survey which sampled seniors across North America reported that independence is among many of the top contributing factors of happiness in a senior’s list of priorities. To them, independence means “the freedom to decide for themselves,” and “the autonomy to do as one please[s], without being controlled by anybody.”

Many seniors have reflected that since being put in a senior home, they have little to no control over their own finances and feel like their opinions are not being valued enough from the people around them. They’ve also said that living in an institutional space has made them feel as if people are interfering with their lives and preventing them from doing as they please.

We didn’t know better back then. Many of us thought that by putting our loved ones in a senior home, they would be able to indulge in a community of many others alike them, bonding over tales of their lives while being served by 5-star caretakers. While the level of freedom and care given to seniors vary across every senior home, it surely makes you wonder whether your loved one is truly getting the lifestyle he or she deserves.

Check If You’re Missing Any Vaccines

For an elderly person, below are 3 vaccines to consider taking to prevent health conditions from arising. Chances are that you have already taken them in a past and are still maintaining healthy levels of it in your body. However, it is always best to ask your doctor during regular checkups to find out the exact levels of vaccines you have remaining.

1. Influenza Vaccine

The influenza vaccine is a shot that contains current trending virus that has been inactivated so it cannot cause any harm to the recipient. The immune system then responds to this inactive virus and forms antibodies to protect the person against this virus for future purposes. Elders, however, have weaker immunization systems compared to other age groups, and hence is recommended to higher-dosage influenza vaccines for added protection.

The best time to get influenza shots, for both elders and other age groups, it’s recommended to get the vaccination shots early before the flu season officially kicks in. It takes approximately 2 weeks for the body to finish building antibodies, so the earlier the vaccination, the better.

2. Pneumococcal Vaccine

To prevent pneumonia caused by the malicious bacteria, seniors are advised to take the pneumonia vaccine. Doctors suggest all seniors above age 65 to get vaccinated for pneumonia. This age threshold lowers to 50 for those who smoke or is experiencing chronic health problems that may put them at greater risk.

Complications caused by pneumococcal pneumonia include meningitis and blood stream infections, along with a few lesser known symptoms. The good news is the vaccine is effective and needs to be given only once in most cases although some adults with certain medical problems may need a booster in five years.

2. Tdap Vaccine

Short for “tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis”, Tdap as its name suggests, is a vaccine that protects against whopping coughs, diphtheria and pertussis. Of these three symptoms, coughs and pertussis has made a resurgence in recent times and older adults can pass this disease onto infants who are most vulnerable when it comes to this category of symptoms.

Seniors over the age of 65 should get the Tdap vaccine if they have never had it in their system. The primary effect of this is to protect against whopping coughs. It is also advised to get a tetanus booster every 10 years, though a separate vaccine called “Td” which doesn’t contain pertussis may be a better choice once seniors have gotten TdAP vaccine at least once.

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